NEW YORK CITY (PM) — NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill just announced that officer Daniel Pantaleo has been ousted.
“Trials Commissioner Maldonado ruled that officer Pantaleo’s use of a prohibited chokehold was reckless and constituted a gross deviation from the standard of conduct established for a New York City police officer,” O’Neill stated.
“I agree with the Deputy Commissioner of Trials legal findings and recommendations and it is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer serve as a New York City police officer,” O’Neill stated.
Before announcing Daniel Pantaleo’s firing, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill had a lengthy introduction describing the difficult decisions police must often make.
“Every day in New York, people receive summons or arrested by officers without any physical force being used. But some people choose to verbally and/or physically resist the enforcement action lawfully being taken against them,” he stated.
“Those situations are unpredictable and dangerous to everyone involved. The street is never the right place to argue the appropriateness of an arrest. That is what our courts are for. Being a police officer is one of the hardest jobs in the world.”
O’Neill went on to explain the series of events that led to his decision today.
“No one believes that officer Pantaleo got out of bed on July 17, 2014, thinking he would make choices and take actions during an otherwise routine arrest that lead to another person’s death. But officer’s choices and actions even made under extreme pressure matter. It is unlikely that Mr. Garner thought he was in such poor help health that a brief struggle with the police would lead to his death. He should have decided against resisting arrest, but a man with a family lost his life. And that is an irreversible tragedy. And a hard-working police officer with a family and a man that took this job to do good, to make a difference in his home community has now lost his chosen career. And that is different kind of tragedy.”
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said he “examined the totality of the circumstances and relied on the facts,” noting he believes he reached the right decision.
“In this case the unintended consequence of Mr. Garner’s death must have a consequence of its own. Therefore I agree with the Deputy Commissioner of Trial’s legal findings and recommendations. It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer effectively serve as a New York City Police Officer,” O’Neill stated.
“In carrying out the court’s verdict in this case, I take no pleasure. I know that many will disagree with this decision, and that is their right. There are absolutely no victors here today. Not the Garner family, not the community at large, and certainly not the courageous men and women of the Police Department who put their own lives on the line every single day in service to the people of this great city. Today is a day of reckoning, but can also be a day of reconciliation,” O’Neill said.
The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, a police union that represents nearly 50,000 active and retired NYC police officers, has put out a statement on the dismissal of Daniel Pantaleo.
PBA President Patrick Lynch said that Commissioner James O’Neill has “chosen politics and his own self-interest over the police officers he claims to lead.”
“The damage is already done. The NYPD will remain rudderless and frozen, and Commissioner O’Neill will never be able to bring it back. Now it is time for every PO in this city to make their own choice,” Lynch said in the statement.
Here is the union’s full statement:
Eric Garner’s daughter Emerald Garner vowed to continue to fight for justice following the tragic death of her father.”I don’t want another Eric Garner. I will do everything in my power to never see another Eric Garner,” she told reporters.
“I don’t even want to see another video of a person being choked out. Because it wasn’t supposed to happen to him. It’s not supposed to happen. I should not be here standing with my brother, fatherless. I should be standing here with my father. But Pantaleo took that away from me on 7/17. Yes, he’s fired. But the fight is not over. We will continue to fight.”
She also thanked NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill for his decision to fire Pantaleo.
“I thank you for doing the right thing,” Emerald Garner said.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, president of National Action Network, vowed to push for congressional hearings and a law to prevent chokeholds.
Sharpton, speaking at a news conference alongside two of Eric Garner’s children, said they will be asking the state to make the use of chokeholds illegal.
“We will be going to the state of New York to ask that they begin to make it illegal by law the use of the chokehold,” he said. This was a New York policy, New York City Department Policy. It ought to be a state law and a federal law that chokeholds by police is punishable with a crime, not just termination.”
Sharpton vowed to call on Congressman Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to investigate Garner’s death.
“We continue to call for Congressman Nadler who committed congressional hearings to move forward,” he said. “We need to investigate why the federal government around the country, including Eric Garner, decide not to bring cases in a federal court and let a jury decide whether or not Garner had 10,000 cigarettes. Let a jury decide whether his civil rights was (sic) violated and whether or not the police operated in a manner that robbed him of his civil rights. And the same should be of other cases around the country which is why the Judiciary Committee ought to have those public hearings starting in New York.”
Daniel Pantaleo’s attorney Stuart London said that he received a call notifying him that Pantaleo was being fired “about 13 minutes” before the NYPD police commissioner made the public announcement.
London, speaking at a press conference today, said that he passed the information onto Pantaleo.
“Obviously he is disappointed, upset,” London said about Pantaleo’s reaction. “But he has a lot of strength.”
London said that Pantaleo will file an Article 78 in court to appeal the decision by the commissioner to terminate him.
“We’re looking for him to get his job back,” London said.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, is weighing in on today’s decision to fire officer Daniel Pantaleo from the New York City Police Department.
Nadler said the decision to terminate Pantaleo, who is accused of fatally choking Eric Garner in 2014, shouldn’t have taken so long.
“Firing him was the right thing to do, but it should not have taken so many years for such a limited measure of justice,” the congressman said.
Nadler added that the House Judiciary Committee would hold hearings and consider legislation to “strengthen police-community relations.”
Read his full statement:
“The justice system and Department of Justice have failed Eric Garner and his family. It is long past time for the officer who caused Eric Garner’s death to be held accountable by some measure. As I’ve said before, the footage of Eric Garner’s death is clear. The officer in the case used an illegal chokehold on Garner that was banned by the NYPD. Firing him was the right thing to do, but it should not have taken so many years for such a limited measure of justice. The House Judiciary Committee will hold hearings and consider legislation this Congress to strengthen police-community relations. We must continue to work at every level of government, within our local police departments and on the ground in our communities to ensure positive change.”